The World Health Organisation reports that there have been over 6.6 million deaths due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is increasing. The surge of COVID-19, which was caused by an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2, also known as SARS-CoV-2, has reached every corner of the globe. In response, medical professionals globally have been looking at every option possible to help prevent and treat patients with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. This has resulted in research surfacing surrounding the potential benefits of CBD for this condition.
A study investigating the effects of CBD on COVID-19 in mice published in 2022 (by researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago and the University of Chicago in the journal of Science Advances) found that CBD holds the ability to inhibit the SARS-CoV-2 virus from replicating once it has made its way to lung cells. CBD was not able to prevent the virus from entering cells but was effective in preventing its replication early, including at 2 and 6 hours post-infection. The same result was concluded for the original strain as well as three variants of the virus. The study also looked at the effect of CBD on viral replication in mice. The results of that portion of the study concluded that when CBD was administered for at least one week prior to infection that it held the ability to both suppress infection in the lung and the nasal passages.
An analysis from the National COVID Cohort Collaborative, including responses from 1,212 patients, showed that those that were prescribed and were currently taking a medical-quality oral solution of CBD for epilepsy had a much lower incidence rate for COVID-19 than a sample of similar patients with common demographics who were not taking CBD.
In a review of CBD and COVID-19-related studies, authors concluded that "CBD is a promising anti-inflammatory agent for treating severely infected COVID-19 patients." This review encapsulated a total of 9 research articles on the subject, including five in vivo animal studies, three in vitro human tissue studies, and one randomised clinical trial. All three human tissue studies, as well as four out of five in vivo animal studies, show decreased immune response markers when CBD was introduced to a COVID-19 infection. The study also, however, concluded that "there is not enough evidence to support or refute CBD as a repurposed drug to treat inflammation and other symptoms of COVID-19." It also went on to suggest that more clinical trials are needed in order to test for potential adverse effects.
Could CBD hold the answers to helping prevent the spread of COVID-19? Could it offer anti-inflammatory properties for those that have been infected with this virus? Research suggests that there is potential; however, human-based clinical trials are warranted to validate not only the efficacy of CBD but also any potential adverse effects that it may present. It is likely, with the projection for COVID, that more research will be focused on how this phytocannabinoid could be used in potential treatments and the prevention of the virus moving forward.
This article is authored by Dr Casey Abrahamsmen. Dr Abrahamsmen is a board certified physician with over 13 years of experience in internal medicine and pain management. He practises Palliative care at a hospital in Venezuela and is a strong advocative for CBD and believes CBD has a major role to play towards healthy non addictive pain management habits. You can read more about Dr Abrahamsmen here.
This article was peer-reviewed by Dr M Mansoor Siddique (PhD). Dr Siddique has over eight years of experience working with CBD and CBD products.
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